Last week I read Evicted:Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond. Wow. I usually read novels in the evening to relax but I once I started reading this book I couldn’t read anything else until I finished it (in 3 evenings). The book recounts Desmond’s incredibly careful, painstaking ethnographic work following 8 families and two landlords in Milwaukee as the complicated web of finding housing, moving, being evicted or displaced, and finding housing again plays out. If I could have Ben Carson read one book before he becomes the director of HUD (which can only have disastrous consequences), it would be this one. If the basic unfairness of our housing system, particularly for poor women and children of color, doesn’t come through loud and clear from reading this book, then there is no hope for the reader’s humanity.
Here’s what Thomas Sugrue said about Ben Carson directing HUD in today’s Washington Post:
We don’t know much yet about how Carson will run HUD, but his lack of experience with urban policy, his bromides about socialist planning, his indifference to fair housing and his calls for individual bootstrapping don’t bode well for the future of metropolitan America. And in a climate of privatization and deregulation, championed by the country’s new real estate developer in chief, Carson’s inexperience could be a serious liability.